View Full Version : [PBP] What works?

Neon Knight
2009-03-09, 06:00 PM
I've heard various assertions and decelerations about what types of games and what types of systems work in the medium of play-by-post, but none of them seem to agree.

A few points that interested me specifically were:

1. Light vs. Heavy Systems- I've heard assertions favoring both light and heavy systems for PBP. Some people seem to maintain that system heavy games become hopelessly slowed down in PBP. Others maintain that light systems are too flimsy to be substantial for PBP. I am skeptical of both remarks.

2. Combat Focused vs. Roleplay Focused- Now, obviously, PBP has some advantages for roleplay focused games. Once can compose one's responses and spend a lot of time thinking things through before making an action. The degree this helps and the degree to which combat and other mechanical actions suffer from the posting format seem to be an issue of contention.

I'd like to hear the playground weigh in on these aspects and on PBP in general.

2009-03-09, 06:22 PM
I have no experience with any system other than D&D 3.5 (presumably a heavy system), so I can't speak to that point.

I will say that the smaller the party is, the easier it will be to bring things together. RP Heavy vs. combat heavy is kinda a wash to me. Combat heavy does make it slightly slower since combat can be absolutely endless in 3.5 anyway, and even more so when you have to wait a day between rounds. However, RP drags also when players don't post regularly.

Really, I think this depends on your group and the stability of your server/forum. Your group needs to be consistent about checking/posting, and you need to post/check at the same rates. If one of you posts every day and one of you only posts twice a week, the game will inevitably drag and probably fall apart as the more frequent posters drop out. Also, it helps to not be out of contact for long periods if you can help it. This is easier in play-by-email games since you can check your email from pretty much anywhere nowadays.

Personally, a lot of RPGs depend heavily on your group to determine how enjoyable the experience is. Playing face-to-face with my friends has been great, and playing PBP with inconsistent groups has been awful. Draw from that what you will.


2009-03-10, 06:18 AM
There are no easy answers - both Exalted and DND 4e are rules-heavy games, yet Exalted works very well for PbP while 4e gets bogged down when combat starts, unless you have very fast players and DM. Who_Da_Halfling has a good point on the second issue, too.

If you ask me, mechanical complexity does not matter as much as the average length of combat - mechanics-heavy systems don't slow the game down because it's not in real time, and therefore everyone can check all the rules they want before posting.

2009-03-10, 06:33 AM
I don't have much experience with RL games, but from what I've seen it's much easier to roleplay effectively in PBP.

2009-03-10, 06:40 AM
PbP is way too slow for me regardless, but I will echo Dhavaer's comment about RP being better in a text based environment. Personally, I prefer to play in an internet chat room environment (text based of course), as people fall far more into character when they dont hear human voices and they are imagining all the other filler.

Tempest Fennac
2009-03-10, 07:22 AM
Something I've done in a PBP game I'm running is roll for people who don't roll within 24 hours of their turn coming up during combat (it's a3.5 game). Apart from 2 players vanishing for no apparent reason and 1 character (who will be booted after this quest) pretty much becoming a DMPC, it's worked well (here's the game if you want to read over it: http://mydndgame.com/campaign/203 . The actual game, which has a descent amount of RPing in it, is in the Board section).

2009-03-10, 10:06 AM
First of all, it will depend on the style of DM and players alike.

When that is said and done, I think it's true that lighter rules generally work better for this kind of game. I've PbP'ed mostly 3.5 and usually those games fall apart during combat sequences, since they will last comparatively long and require lots of consistent posting. That's not to say they weren't fun to participate in, 'cause they were. But I think it's what usually kills longevity.

Currently, I'm DMing a PbP (on a private forum for friends I play with IRL anyway) and as an experiment I'm running the simplest, dumbest system to speed up things and avoid complication, namely Fighting Fantasy (using The Riddling Reaver gamebook, as I think its overall mood will suit the style of our group), and so far it's working really well, but time will tell...

2009-03-10, 10:35 AM
Tengu_temp has a good point that it doesn't really matter how complex the rules system is on PBP. For instance, at the gaming table, it can take a while in 3.5 before people figure out exactly how an Attack of Opportunity situation or a Grapple check works. But, on PBP, you can just take the time to read the PHB or SRD and figure out how you're supposed to jump on the back of the blackguard's horse and try to strangle him.

On the other hand, anything for which you need to ask the DM's approval (the above action would probably require DM ruling) takes longer on PBP since you need to wait for the DM to actually check and read your request and answer you. But, the complexity of the system itself plays less of a role in PBP than it does IRL.